Quick Hit: Blackstar FLY 3 Review

A mean little practice amp that streets under $75 and includes an onboard delay.

The FLY 3 uses six AAs to pump 3 watts through a compact (6 5/8" x 4 7/8" x 4") cab with a 3" speaker. The gain, volume, and EQ knobs are pretty standard, as are the overdrive button and MP3/line-in and headphone jacks. The EQ control is labeled ISF, like the voicing knob on bigger Blackstars, but here it seems to primarily take mids from scooped to honking. But the FLY’s “tape-style” delay section—controlled by a mini level pot and a full-sized time knob—is what adds a welcome musicality to the micro format. Blackstar doesn’t specify how many milliseconds are on tap, and the “tape” moniker may be a bit much, considering the fidelity of any tiny amp speaker. But whether you prefer the super saturation of cranked overdrive or the improved dynamics of clean-ish sounds, there’s enough ambience to veer from barebones rocking to slapback-like feels or more atmospheric sounds that inspire jangly progressions or soaring leads. You’ll never forget you’re playing through a tiny box—this sort of form factor has its inherent limitations—but you may be surprised how inspiring and useful it can be for practice, songwriting, and, for the adventurous, even recording.

Test Gear: Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Tele with Nordstrand NVT A3 pickups, Schecter PT
Fastback II B, Eastwood Sidejack Baritone DLX

Ratings

Pros:
Cool features—especially the built-in delay. Fuller sound than many battery-powered amps. Fun way to play on the go.

Cons:
Noisy with some single-coils. Clean and semi-dirty tones could be louder.

Street:
$59

Blackstar FLY 3
blackstaramps.com

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